It’s no secret… I love Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. If you need any confirmation of that check out my last post here, and here. This is the twelfth book in the series, and A Great Reckoning definitely stands up and keeps on propelling this series forward.
First off, I want to tell you that Louise Penny is an enigma. She wrote this book while her husband Michael was battling dementia, and it was progressing fast. He has since passed, and if you want to read a beautiful little article about her husband and Penny click on over here. Throughout this painful period of her life, she still created a captivating, poetic, mystery novel.
This story starts in the alluring, unknown town of Three Pines in which an old, intricate map is found stuffed in the walls of the town bistro as it was being renovated. In the beginning it seems to be just an interesting piece of paper, but as the villagers begin to look at it more closely they notice much more interesting it becomes.
At first glance, it didn’t look like a map at all. While worn and torn a little, it was beautifully and intricately illustrated, with bears and deer and geese placed around the mountains and the forests. In a riot of seasonal confusion, there were spring lilac and plump peony beside maple trees in full autumn color.
Upon starting his new job as taking over as Commander for the Surete du Quebec Academy, Armand has been hopes to re-work the structure and get rid of the corruption that the department has. Unfortunately, he underestimates the amount of corruption, and as the story progresses you see the depth of it. As a gift from his friends of Three Pines, he receives the old map framed for his office. This gift ends up being just the tip of the iceberg of secrets that begin to unfold.
Without giving away too much, Armand is now in a position where he finds himself in the middle of four cadets of the Academy, an old, odd map, and a dead professor. Just when he thought he’d escaped the dangers of homocide, he is hurdled back into it, and suddenly a suspect in the murder of one of his Professors.
If you have read these novels, you know that the cast of characters are just a riot. They tease each other, and have one-liners that should be on a sit-com. But of all the villagers, old Ruth is definitely my favourite. With each novel her character just gets funnier, and more developed. Her one-liners had me laughing out loud this novel. And the way she curses like a sailor, and mooches food, and booze off all her friends just kills me.
“I saw you guys come up here. Oh, wonderful.” She sat down next to Jacques, and grabbing the bottle from him, she took a swig of beer. “Why’re we here?”
In this novel you are also introduced to a new cadet, Amelia Choquet. And she plays a large role in this book, and I hope many more to come! She is a young woman, who has lived a hard life, and has pierced and tattooed herself right up… perhaps in the purpose to hide from the real her. Think… Lisbeth Salander (any Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fans will get this reference). But as guarded as she is about letting other people in, she is busy watching and taking it all in. She is intelligent, and destined to be a huge asset to the Surete.
One last thing that I loved about this book was there was some reference to how the town of Three Pines, and Canada had dealt on a small level with the loss of World War I. I loved this reference, and the descriptions on the town’s monuments. I feel like even in the small towns that I grew up around, and visit in Canada, there are monuments like these ones… but how many of us take the time to really think about the loss of the young people that were so bravely fighting.
The remains of so many young men. The Great war had destroyed the flower of Europe and had taken with it the wildflowers of Canada. A generation of young men, gone.
Anywho, long story short… If you haven’t read this series yet… What are you reading?!?!?! Put the whole series on hold at the library, and read it. You won’t regret. The great thing about these novels is that Louise Penny’s writing just develops along with each book she writes. Yes, these are placed in that “mystery genre” but I feel like they are SO much more than just that, and it’s a book that appeals to so many different types of readers.
So… just in case you want to put this series on hold, or buy it, here’s the order of the books:
- Still Life
- A Fatal Grace
- The Cruelest Month
- A Rule Against Murder
- The Brutal Telling
- Bury Your Dead
- A Trick of the Light
- The Beautiful Mystery
- How the Light Gets In
- The Long Way Home
- The Nature of the Beast
- A Great Reckoning
- Glass Houses
Anywho friends, I’m off to debate on whether I should start the next one in the series, Glass Houses, or wait so I don’t have to be sad that that’s the last of the series… for now!